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Space is full of gigantic holes that are bigger than we expected

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 10:09:08 +0000

The universe is full of eerie, empty voids that are bigger than we ever expected – and could help unravel the cosmos's deepest mysteries

Mars orbiter spots new crater that may be ExoMars’s lost lander

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 18:05:38 +0000

The lander may have turned off its thrusters too early, meaning it smacked into the ground at high speed with full fuel tanks - and may have exploded

Double star may light up the sky as rare red nova in six years

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:50:09 +0000

New observations of a binary star in the constellation Cygnus suggest they may be in a death spiral and will soon collide and explode

Smart lab rats filmed using hooked tools to get chocolate cereal

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:59:14 +0000

Lock up your cereal. Rats can learn to use tools, such as hooked rakes, to reach food, and they can even choose the right tool for the job

Shawl thing: Cashmere could soon come from gene-edited goats

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:01:43 +0000

No kidding, goats modified using the CRISPR gene-editing method can produce a third more of the precious fibre

Is it time to allow more than two parents on birth certificates?

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:47:52 +0000

Changing attitudes, surrogacy and reproductive technology mean it's right that England and Wales reconsider the birth-registration law, says Julie McCandless

Final US presidential clash fails on climate change once more

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 13:39:29 +0000

In the last debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, a journalist again failed to push them on the world's most-pressing problem, says Matthew Nisbet  

Kuwait to change law forcing all citizens to provide DNA samples

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 12:11:14 +0000

Challenges and appeals have pushed Kuwait’s parliament to revise anti-terrorism law that requires citizens and visitors to give samples of their DNA

These are the foods you should eat if you want less smelly farts

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 09:41:45 +0000

By mixing faeces with food ingredients, researchers have worked out which foodstuffs can reduce the amount of “rotten-egg gas” produced by our gut bacteria

Roaming fashion robots keep busy doing odd jobs on your clothes

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 09:56:21 +0000

Pocket-sized "Rovables" could zip to your wrist to monitor your pulse before climbing to your chest to act as a digital name badge

Iceland drills hottest hole to tap into energy of molten magma

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 07:00:07 +0000

A new well tested in Iceland could boost geothermal energy production tenfold by exploiting 1000 °C magma steam deep below Earth’s surface

Hundreds of endangered wild snow leopards are killed each year

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 04:00:36 +0000

Cattle herders kill even more leopards than poachers, in revenge for livestock attacks. So helping them protect their animals could save the rare mountain cats  

E-paper display runs on office lights and never needs charging

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 16:56:01 +0000

Microsoft researchers have made an ‘energy-neutral’ device that harvests solar power from ambient lighting so you’ll never need to change the battery

Police mass face recognition in the US will net innocent people

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 16:34:06 +0000

A law enforcement database of 117 million faces - half of all US citizens – hasn’t been properly vetted and is likely biased against black people, says Hal Hodson

$100 million project to make intelligence-boosting brain implant

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 16:00:08 +0000

Human intelligence is set to be the world’s biggest ever industry, says entrepreneur Bryan Johnson, whose company aims to enhance it with a brain prosthesis

Mice’s love songs go wrong when ‘language gene’ is messed up

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 14:47:11 +0000

The FOXP2 gene probably helped us evolve speech when we split from chimpanzees. But tinkering with the gene in mice affects their communication too

Dozens of ancient shipwrecks spotted deep beneath the Black Sea

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 14:06:51 +0000

Decks of medieval ships have been revealed in unprecedented detail in exquisitely preserved wrecks, some found as deep as 1 kilometre

Our ancestors chose reeds over grain when quitting nomadic life

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 12:00:14 +0000

It wasn’t all about cereal. When abandoning nomadic life, some of our ancestors were playing it safe with grasses that are less nutritious but grow all year round

Tesla shows off fully autonomous car in new video demonstration

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 09:34:26 +0000

Elon Musk has announced that all cars produced in Tesla's factories from now on will include upgraded hardware that enables them to drive entirely autonomously

Fears grow that ExoMars lander lost in final minute of descent

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 09:13:18 +0000

ESA has spelled out what we know so far about what happened to the Schiaparelli lander on its descent to the surface of Mars - and it doesn't look good

Lab-made eggs will help people have children when they choose to

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

The creation of mature eggs from adult mouse skin cells will almost certainly be replicated in humans, giving people more choice over when they start a family

It’s fine to put a price on life, as long as it’s fair

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Your life might feel priceless to you and your loved ones, but society needs to know its value

Why San Francisco’s next quake could be much bigger than feared

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:54 +0000

Two major fault lines in the San Francisco Bay Area are linked, and could rupture together releasing five times more energy than one of them alone

Is pain catching? First clues that it might spread to others

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:21 +0000

Scents and odours seem to be implicated in the first experiments that seem to show mice can sensitise other mice to pain

California is covering mountains with sensors to fight drought

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

A project is kicking off in the Sierra Nevada mountains to monitor moisture levels to help control the state’s water supplies and hydro power

First birds made honking sounds more than 66 million years ago

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

A new fossil discovery has shown that birds developed the unique vocal organ that enables them to sing more than 66 million years ago when dinosaurs were around

Uranus might have two dark moons we’ve never seen before

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Newly detected wavy patterns in two of the planet’s rings suggest they are being warped by two small, unseen satellites

Is it right to kill millions of animals if it protects others?

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Culls are routinely carried out around the world in the name of upholding biodiversity and animal welfare. Are they ethical and do they work, asks Alice Klein

Islands to lose fresh water as rising seas sink them from within

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

As sea levels rise, islands can lose ground not only on their coasts, but also inland as lakes spring up – and cause drinking water to evaporate

Some of our Stone Age tools may just be crafty monkey throwaways

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 17:00:57 +0000

Capuchins make stone flakes that could be mistaken for hominin tools, but they do so by accident in search of mineral dust they lick, perhaps as a medication

Mystery cosmic objects light up in X-ray then go dim in an hour

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 17:00:06 +0000

Digging through old observations of galaxies, astronomers have discovered X-ray flares from objects they can’t yet identify

Cameras monitor hospital patients’ vital signs from afar

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 16:33:53 +0000

Trials at John Radcliffe and Broadmoor hospitals show how special software can monitor patients' breathing and heart rate from camera images

Dental checks can’t verify the age of child asylum seekers

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 15:53:20 +0000

The ages of migrants seeking asylum as unaccompanied children cannot be accurately determined using dental X-rays or bone scans, says Tim Cole

Pluto may sport clouds of poisonous acid and flammable gases

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 14:36:13 +0000

Wispy features spotted just above the dwarf planet’s surface might be clouds – and they seem to be made of nasty stuff

“Not good signs”: wait for ExoMars lander will run overnight

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 13:35:16 +0000

The ExoMars mission is GO. ESA is waiting to hear that the Schiaparelli lander has touched down on Mars, while the Trace Gas Orbiter has avoided smashing into it

One in 20 European patients catch an infection while in hospital

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 18:00:32 +0000

An analysis of data from hospitals from across Europe estimates that there are 2.5 million hospital-acquired infections a year, causing around 90,000 deaths

Mystery beast in ice age cave art revealed as cow-bison hybrid

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 15:00:08 +0000

What was long thought to be a change in cave art style was in fact the natural evolution of a hybrid species – the elusive ancestor of modern European bison

‘I had a mail-order abortion’: The women forced to go it alone

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 13:18:41 +0000

Many Irish women travel to England for abortions but sometimes this is not practical. One woman tells us how a website made it possible

Security agencies collected data unlawfully, UK court rules

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 12:31:36 +0000

Tribunal finds secret collection and use of confidential personal information by GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 breached privacy laws for more than a decade

Get ready for ESA’s white-knuckle descent to the Red Planet

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 12:08:54 +0000

Europe's latest attempt to land on Mars will be a nail-biting, nerve-wracking ride, says Mark Sims, who led its first touchdown on the Red Planet

Toddler stars’ baby fat kicks out almost all their exoplanets

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 09:45:38 +0000

The Kepler space telescope has found more singleton planets than expected. A new explanation blames young stars for tossing planets out in a tantrum

UK government taken to court over failure to cut air pollution

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 09:01:15 +0000

Campaign group ClientEarth has asked the British High Court to make the government do more to restrain nitrogen dioxide levels in cities

Anti-inflammatory drugs can relieve symptoms of depression

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 08:00:15 +0000

An analysis of 20 studies suggests that anti-cytokine drugs could help people with depression – especially those who don’t respond to antidepressants

Dr House goes digital as IBM’s Watson diagnoses rare diseases

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 04:01:55 +0000

Doctors will use Watson as a diagnostic tool after finding it could match symptoms with potential rare diseases as well as a human – but faster

Overweight mothers give birth to biologically older babies

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 00:00:23 +0000

Babies born to obese mothers have shorter telomeres - equivalent to up to 10 years' extra ageing - which may put them at risk of diabetes and heart disease

Here’s why putting tomatoes in the fridge makes them tasteless

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 19:00:22 +0000

Changes in gene activity affect the flavour of chilled tomatoes, a new insight that could help us create more cold-proof varieties

Whales’ dung is the real reason we need to stop hunting them

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 16:51:02 +0000

Growing evidence that whales boost fish numbers and play a crucial environmental role will take centre stage at a major whaling summit taking place this week

Eggs made from skin cells in lab could herald end of infertility

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 15:00:11 +0000

Fertile eggs have been created from mouse skin cells for the first time, raising the prospect of new fertility treatments and babies with two genetic fathers

Ban for gases that saved the ozone layer but now warm the planet

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 11:38:07 +0000

Nations have agreed to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), chemicals that helped protect the ozone layer but are potent greenhouses gases

ExoMars spacecraft splits in two to explore Mars surface and air

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 09:51:54 +0000

It’s crunch time for the ExoMars mission, as its orbiter and lander spring into action ahead of Wednesday’s landing

Older women have babies with fewer birth defects after IVF

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 09:41:49 +0000

An analysis of 300,000 births in Australia has found that older women who conceive via IVF or ICSI are less likely to have children with abnormalities

China launches two astronauts to stay on its new space station

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 09:41:19 +0000

The Shenzhou 11 mission launched from the edge of the Gobi Desert in northern China today - and the astronauts will dock with the Tiangong-2 space station in two days

Islands to lose fresh water as rising seas sink them from within

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 08:00:45 +0000

As sea levels rise, islands can lose ground not only on their coasts, but also inland as lakes spring up – and cause drinking water to evaporate

Home abortions are safe – we should let women do it themselves

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 04:01:59 +0000

The abortion pill is so safe and easy to use we should let women take it at home, says Clare Wilson

Virus steals black widow poison gene to help it attack

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 15:00:54 +0000

For the first time a virus that targets bacteria has been found to have genes lifted from non-bacterial cells – those of the black widow spider

Strange signals from 234 stars could be ET – or human error

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 22:12:51 +0000

Two Canadian astrophysicists claim they’ve detected intelligent signals from 234 sun-like stars - but don’t get your hopes up yet

The moon has hundreds more craters than we thought

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 17:00:24 +0000

Bombardment by small meteors is constantly churning up the surface of the moon. The dust-up could pose a hazard to future lunar settlements

How much water should you drink a day? Your throat will tell you

Mon, 10 Oct 2016 11:04:26 +0000

When you’ve had enough to drink, it becomes harder to swallow water – a finding that suggests you shouldn’t force yourself to drink eight glasses a day

Weird binary system spotted with three rings around two stars

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 14:00:57 +0000

Astronomers have stumbled upon a unique binary system with a disc of gas and dust around each star – and then a third disc circling both

Proxima b’s hyperactive star is more sun-like than thought

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 16:09:42 +0000

The star hosting the nearest exoplanet has a multi-year activity cycle, much like the sun – but its powerful maximum could prove deadly

Uranus might have two dark moons we’ve never seen before

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 15:33:57 +0000

Newly detected wavy patterns in two of the planet’s rings suggest they are being warped by two small, unseen satellites  

Kratom ban rethink is a hint of sanity in failed US war on drugs

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 14:32:21 +0000

Public opposition has seen a proposed ban on the medicinal leaf kratom dropped for now. Criminalising it would have been madness, says Marc Swogger

It’s not just the Nobel committee: scientists love Bob Dylan too

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 13:31:57 +0000

More than 200 scientific papers have referenced Bob Dylan's songs in the title since 1990 - but the Nobel-winner is still beaten by The Beatles

Worms seen farming plants to be eaten later for the first time

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 12:29:38 +0000

A type of ragworm has been spotted dabbling in gardening for the first time, a behaviour that allows it to grow much bigger by unleashing more nutrition

Does a tweet designed to trigger seizures count as assault?

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 06:00:31 +0000

A video embedded in a tweet that seemed intended to trigger an epileptic seizure in someone known to have the condition crosses a line, says Elizabeth Joh

Drones will fly life-saving blood supplies to clinics in Rwanda

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 23:01:24 +0000

Just send a text and they’ll be there. The drone delivery service will save lives by getting supplies to remote locations much faster than possible by car

Why scary clowns are threatening people all around the world

Fri, 07 Oct 2016 12:39:28 +0000

The past few weeks have seen the rise of strange clown sightings across the US, UK and Canada. What's going on, asks Sally Adee

Our universe contains 10 times more galaxies than we thought

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 17:09:56 +0000

The observable universe contains a whopping two trillion galaxies, meaning there may have been a period of rapid galaxy merging in the universe's past

Spiders can hear you walking and talking from across the room

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 16:00:05 +0000

Even though they lack ears, it seems that spiders can “hear” everyday sounds up to several metres away with their leg hairs

Quadriplegic man feels touch on robotic hand with brain implant

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 16:00:19 +0000

A person who is paralysed from the neck down has felt the sensation of touch from a robotic hand for the first time, thanks to electrodes inserted in his brain

Frogfish turns itself white to blend in with bleached corals

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 14:07:00 +0000

The warty frogfish slowly changes colour to match its surroundings – now one has been found that has fully adapted to recent bleaching in the Maldives

First UK trial of driverless pods paves way for autonomous taxis

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 14:26:09 +0000

Two-seater pods zip around the pedestrian zones of Milton Keynes in the first UK trial of driverless car tech. Timothy Revell goes for a spin

Cheese-making led to gene-swapping orgy of bacterial bestiality

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 13:52:37 +0000

The bacteria that create our cheeses are exchanging genes like mad as they compete to survive in this new environment

First farm to grow veg in a desert using only sun and seawater

Thu, 06 Oct 2016 12:24:02 +0000

The world's first commercial seawater greenhouse has been launched in Australia, using solar power and desalinated seawater to grow tomatoes in a desert

Quantum film sensor stops delivery drones crashing into things

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 11:25:04 +0000

A sensor that uses infrared laser light and quantum film detects objects up to 20 metres away, helping drones to dodge collisions

How will you look after Botox? 3D scans could give you a preview

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 10:17:24 +0000

Algorithms could predict how you would look after cosmetic procedures such as Botox or dermal fillers, letting you see how your face is likely to change

Che aspetto avresti dopo il Botox? L’anteprima in scansione 3D

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 10:17:24 +0000

Un algoritmo potrebbe prevedere l'effetto delle iniezioni di Botox e dermal fillers, dando un’immagine in anteprima del volto post ritocco estetico

Science is catching up with society on transgender issues

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Society has made great leaps in its acceptance of transgender people. Science has a big part to play in keeping the momentum going

Virtual reality: No one is actually buying 2016’s hottest tech

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

PlayStation VR has joined the wave of new virtual reality gear, but will it ever have mainstream appeal? Hal Hodson investigates

TV shows could use ultrasound to send bonus extras to your phone

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Extra information about your television programme can be coded into ultrasound that only your phone can hear

Do Uber ratings let passengers discriminate against drivers?

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Uber drivers’ jobs depend on customer ratings, which researchers say could let user biases creep into the system

Project Blue plans to send space telescope to snap nearby worlds

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 17:00:00 +0000

The mission is to launch a telescope the size of a washing machine and point it in the direction of Alpha Centauri – our neighbouring star system

60 Seconds

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Opportunity's new job, cyber nuclear attack, return of a goddess and more

How to iron out gravity’s creases in our map of the universe

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Our best map of the big bang’s afterglow is warped. A clean-up technique using light from distant galaxies could clear up some long-standing mysteries

Brain scans show trans people feeling at odds with their body

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

Differences in the brain’s response to touch may explain why transgender people often feel like some parts of their body don’t belong

DeepMind’s AI has learned to navigate the Tube using memory

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 17:00:21 +0000

By combining neural networks with external memory, Google’s DeepMind creates a system that can solve tasks like finding the shortest route on a transport map

Could plan for new ‘nation in space’ on a satellite take off?

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 16:00:51 +0000

The idea of starting a nation in space is fraught with legal, financial and technological difficulties. But a new project thinks they can pull it off

Exploding Samsung phone shows how risky lithium batteries can be

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 16:04:04 +0000

Lithium-ion batteries have transformed consumer electronics, but they are and will remain a volatile partner in tech's revolution, says Paul Marks

The games that feel more like watching Twin Peaks than playing

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 14:44:42 +0000

The game Virginia creates an experience closer in effect and tone to a David Lynch thriller than to other games. The result is delightful and disorienting

First birds made honking sounds more than 66 million years ago

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 17:00:35 +0000

A new fossil discovery has shown that birds developed the unique vocal organ that enables them to sing more than 66 million years ago when dinosaurs were around

Spider spotted chaining wild crayfish with silk before devouring

Fri, 07 Oct 2016 14:06:57 +0000

The spider tied its victim to the underside of a rock using strands of silk, before disemboweling it – this behaviour has never been seen in the wild before

Dementia risk linked to air pollution and lack of vitamin D

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 00:01:53 +0000

The first comprehensive review of which environmental factors are associated with dementia has identified links to pollution, pesticides and even power lines

Greater equality in science will take more than Ada Lovelace Day

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 14:13:52 +0000

Ada Lovelace has become a figurehead of efforts to tackle gender bias in science and technology, but this will take more than role models, says Shannon Palus

US presidential candidates being let off hook on climate change

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 12:03:51 +0000

The world's most pressing problem is being all but ignored by moderators in the TV debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, says Matthew Nisbet

Young ovaries rejuvenate older mice and extend their lifespan

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 08:45:01 +0000

Receiving young ovaries turns back the clock in older female mice, enabling them to live longer. Could it keep people young too?

Disco-ball sail propelled by laser could fly to a nearby star

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 08:00:07 +0000

Breakthrough Starshot aims to send an interstellar probe to a neighbouring star system. A design for a laser-propelled sail suggests how that just might work

Weird orange crocodiles found gorging on bats in Gabon’s caves

Wed, 05 Oct 2016 08:00:09 +0000

One population of the world’s smallest crocodile has moved underground where they pluck bats off the walls – and corrosive droppings change their skin colour

Why shows like Westworld only show dark side of our robot future

Mon, 10 Oct 2016 15:11:31 +0000

Series like Westworld and Humans show we struggle to embrace a peaceful robot destiny. Why such dystopian angst, asks Kate Devlin, who studies human-robot interaction

Haiti faces famine and disease in aftermath of hurricane

Mon, 10 Oct 2016 14:18:17 +0000

Nearly 1000 people have been killed by hurricane Matthew in Haiti, but the death toll will rise as the knock-on effects of the devastation take hold

Abolishing locked psychiatric wards could put patients at risk

Mon, 10 Oct 2016 10:23:43 +0000

Locking ward doors is linked to higher suicide rates, according to new research – but abolishing them altogether could harm the people we’re trying to help